Olivier salad (Olivié in Russian) is a potato salad of sorts and can often be found on dinner tables in Russia and many other European countries. This salad is a staple party dish because all the chopping can be made ahead of time and then combined in mayonnaise just before serving. It’s especially popular this time of the year.
I used to consider Olivier salad unhealthy because it typically calls for bologna and drenched in fattening mayonnaise. That was before I converted to real foodism when I learned I can make my own mayo (get recipe here) with pastured chicken eggs and that bologna can easily be swapped with other more healthier options.
I love this salad for it’s versatility – it really can be served for breakfast (hello it contains eggs!), lunch and dinner and also as a snack in between. You can also make substitutions to some of the ingredients below and likewise omit or add other ingredients. In other words, the world’s your oyster or… the bowl is your salad?!? I don’t know, I’m not good with deep phrases like that.
I just recently learned how beneficial cooked and cooled potatoes are for their resistant starch quality. You can read more about it in this Chris Kresser post but in short, resistant starches are found in common foods such as rice, potatoes, green bananas, legumes and they ‘resist’ digestion making its way to the large intestine where it becomes food for the gut bacteria. In other words, it becomes a prebiotic for probiotics. So that makes this salad a superfood! For Olivier, any large potatoes can be used- red, russet, or yukon gold with the latter being my favorite. Easily prepare them the night before by piercing them with a fork and tossing them into a toaster oven like this one and bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Allow to cool overnight or if short on time, spread them out on a surface so the spuds don’t touch each other. Once cooled, peel the potatoes – the skin should come off easily. Have you seen the video where a potato is scored at half mark, boiled and the skin magically comes off by the twisting of the hand? Yeah, that one – it didn’t work for me. It wasn’t hard to peel, but I was going for the with-the-twist-of-the-hand motion and the potatoes are peeled in a split second. Maybe I have high expectations?!
As with potatoes, these can be hard boiled the night before so they are completely cooled when it’s time to peel them and dice. Everything dices better when chilled.
Gone are the days of Vlasic dill pickles – I don’t even know why the word ‘dill’ is in the title since it’s not even on the ingredient list. But Calcium Chloride, Polysorbate 80, Natural Flavors, and Yellow 5 are. For that reason, skip the jar of natural flavors because those are anything but and opt in for a much healthier version – lacto-fermented pickles. Making your own is of course the best option but a close second is Bubbies brand of pickles. They have two ingredients: cucumbers and sea salt! I’ve also scored truly cultured pickles at European markets, you want to look for the trademark cloudy brine and check that ingredient list (just say no to vinegar).
Truth be told, bologna gives a depth of flavor to this salad like no other. Or maybe it’s just that nostalgic taste – bologna was the flavor of my childhood. Sad. But you know what’s not sad, it can easily be swapped with another much healthier meat option. Option A: you can go with grass-fed hot dogs and dice them up. Applegate beef hot dogs are great for this. Option B: use leftover roast chicken. Option C (and the least of the healthiest): canned chicken but be sure the ingredient list is short. I have a few cans on hand for emergency meals and it contains chicken, sea salt, and water. Personally, I do prefer my Olivier salad to be made with hot dogs but that’s because it’s the closest version I can get to the one I grew up with. Using chicken would definately take the cake for having the least-processed, made from scratch Olivier salad ever!
Okay, these are totally optional but I like the extra pop of color it brings to the salad. And it adds an extra dose of beta-carotene. I toss them in the oven along with the potatoes but take them out much sooner than the spuds.
Well, not much to be said here, except that homemade is the best! And be sure to use good-quality eggs.
Salt & Pepper
Season Olivier with salt and pepper – it will be different each time depending on your mayonnaise, the saltiness of the pickles, and of course your choice of meat.
Combine everything together. As mentioned earlier, you can have everything chopped and ready to go, but hold of on the mayo until it’s time to serve. Sans dressing, the chopped olivier can be refrigerated up to 3-4 days. You can prolong that by storing your chopped pickles in a separate container and adding them when you’re combining the entire salad with mayo as that is the one ingredient that will produce a ton of juice. Or you can toss all the ingredients together and it’s good for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
If there is one tool I cannot part with – it would be my Vidalia Chop Wizard, this thing makes my Ninja blender and KitchenAid mixer jealous. This wizard gadget makes my chopping so quick (seriously!) and easy, I almost feel like I’m cheating. I use it for all my bulk chopping needs, salsa & salads alike. I like that all the pieces are uniform and pretty because I’m OCD like that. Sidenote: except the chicken doesn’t hold up well in this chopper. That should be cut by hand.
Additional add-ins can be canned sweet peas, parsley, dill or green onions. To make this GAPS or Paleo friendly, leave out the potatoes or swap them for sweet potatoes.
- 4 cooked & chilled potatoes
- 4 cooked & chilled carrots
- 4 cooked & chilled hard-boiled eggs
- 4 lacto-fermented pickles
- 2 c. meat, chopped (grassfed hot dogs or leftover roast chicken)
- 1 c. good quality mayonnaise
- salt & pepper to taste
- parsley, dill, green onion for garnish (optional)
- Dice potatoes, carrots, eggs, pickles and meat of choice into a bowl. (If making this ahead, see note 1 below)
- Combine with mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper and combine well.
- Garnish with your favorite herbs.
- Store in the refrigerator.
2) You can prolong the shelf-life (in the refrigerator) by storing the chopped pickles separately from the other ingredients so to avoid spoilage.
3) Fully combined Olivier keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Without mayonnaise: 3-4 days. Without mayonnaise and pickles: up to 6 days.
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